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The Suburbanite
  • Jim Hillibish: Black Friday like Fight Friday? Not this year, almost

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  • Imagine the scene: Your boss says you’re the one to unlock the door on Black Friday.
    “No, no, anybody but me. I have a child.”
    “Just do it. We’ll cover your injuries (or funeral).”
    That was the scene in 2010. Fast forward to 2011: Walmart stays open all night, and people are camped out — inside. In Westfield Belden Village mall, it’s a live rock concert. And thanks to the Internet, there’s no such thing as a surprise. We knew the “surprise” deals weeks before.
    If you were totally in the black over BF, Twitter was a-twitter over when and where the real deals were and, more importantly, were not.
    A NEW HOLIDAY
    Cultural trends once took centuries to mature. No longer. Black Friday took 36 years to grow into a pseudo-holiday, but certainly never for the clerks.
    Beyond your money, you’ve got to hand it to the merchants. They saw the night rapidly turning into danger with fights and injuries and stampeded door openers. Non-combative shoppers were starting to avoid the mayhem, moving rapidly to online stores.
    This year, it was all about crowd control, the discovery being “give ’em something cool to do as they wait.”
    Like sleeping in the lobby.
    FEW PROBLEMS
    2011 goes down as millions of customers and almost no violence, except for a woman in Los Angeles who pepper-sprayed her way to the Walmart Xbox 360s, injuring 20.
    There was a brawl over $2 waffle makers at a Little Rock Walmart, filling liberal blogs with rants that waffle riots define you and me (but not them, of course).
    Shoplifters love crowds. A guy was videotaped allegedly lifting a DVD at a Phoenix Walmart. He fought security and wound up on the floor. The YouTube video posted seconds later screamed “police brutality,” so predictable.
    A few knifing and gunning gangs in California hit shoppers returning to their cars. That’s about it nationwide, no more violent than a Detroit football game.
    Then we had Cyber Monday, also known as Black Friday on the Net. Here the violence was web servers frying over the order load. Imagine all the people shopping in their jammies, drinking chi, cat in the lap, file not found.
    Amazon said, “We’ve got the party going.” They herded customers to “lightning” deals and put countdown clocks on everything, upping the impulse to buy.
    The car dealers, bless ’em, realized they must do something to lure customers away from petty temptations and into $25,000 chariots. CNN found dealers were wildly dealing this time.
    Some merchants were so happy, they declared “Black Fridays” every day this week. If it catches on, black months and black years are next. Wait: Toyota is in the midst of 10 “Black” sell-a-thons.
    Page 2 of 2 - Meanwhile, we can hear Sam Walton crooning, “I’m dreaming of a Black Friday, where we hear sleigh bells in the dough.”